Anna Hazare has taken upon himself the job of curator of the public conscience on corruption. The people whose jobs are immediately at risk are the Prime Minister and senior UPA brass. But, make no mistake, you too are not going to get away scot free.
Hazare has created problems at two levels. First, the economy has been slowing down because of the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBIs) repeated increase in interest rates to try and control inflation. That has impacted corporate profits and growth. The employment outlook was reasonably bright just a couple of months ago (see box). Today all those studies and surveys are quite meaningless. Companies are not hiring. Add to the problems at home the crisis in Europe and the US. The world begins to look like a far more uncertain place. If you have a job, stick to it like glue, says Mumbai-based HR consultant D. Singh. He points out that attrition in the IT space is coming down sharply because this is the sector most affected by Recession 2.0 in the US. Look at the way the share prices of companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro are plummeting.
The second problem is at a personal level. A number of camp followers appointed themselves as crusaders for the cause. They have taken leave from office (some for a day, some for much longer) to join Annas Army of the Righteous. That is perhaps acceptable. Others have been more active. They have been working overtime on Facebook and Twitter to organise protest marches and crowd-sourcing events. Such adventures of youth can be forgiven when the management is considering your next promotion. But this will weigh the balance against you when, many years later, you are in the running for a more senior post. Supporting Anna is going against the corporate establishment. As HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh put it: I do not like certain tax laws, so do I go on a strike? Things are going out of hand.
Some statistics should help. According to a survey by Careerbuilder.com, 20 per cent employers today admit to checking on a persons presence on social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace before offering them a job. This is set to increase further in the future. Second, once you put something on the Net, it is impossible to totally remove it. Two decades later, your campaign to become CEO will run aground because of your history as a Hazare hitman. Even as a junior executive, you are expected to have some sense of responsibility, says Singh. When workers at your plant strike for higher pay, would you be seen as the idealist who joins them in a strike.
In West Bengal, when the Naxalite movement and the anti-US rhetoric over Vietnam were going strong, students of several schools joined protest marches and attacks on symbols of the running dogs of imperialism. When in time they wanted to be a running dog themselves, they found all the gates barred.
It is easy to get carried away by the excitement of the moment, says Singh. And if you fancy yourself as a social activist, seeking a photo-op beside Anna Hazare is a good way to begin. So close at hand, it is difficult to realise that he is a media creation, magnified to lead story status every day because there is no other news.
This too will pass. In a few weeks, Anna Hazare will be fit only to wrap the fish in. But those who have got caught up in active campaigning — which inevitably leads to violence in some form — will have blotted their copybook for life. It is all very fine if you want to be a jholawala. But the corporate man needs to be rational, not emotional.
How Indian cities show up on the jobs front
Ahmedabad: About 5,100 new jobs are expected to be generated during the first three quarters of 2011.
Bangalore: About 5,000 new jobs are expected to be added in the coming quarter.
Chennai: Around 16,900 jobs are expected to be added in the coming quarter.
Delhi & NCR: Around 27,900 jobs are expected to be added between July and September 2011.
Hyderabad: Hyderabad has experienced marginally lower growth than expectations. About 3,500 jobs are expected to be added between July and September this year.
Calcutta: Hiring activities were slow (11,700 jobs) during the first two quarters. Around 5,600 new jobs are expected to be created between July and September 2011.
Mumbai: Mumbai experienced high growth momentum (53,100 new jobs) during the first two quarters. The city is expected to add 32,300 new jobs between July and September 2011.
Pune: The positive hiring activities (6,100 new jobs) continued in Pune during the first phase of 2011.